‘I'm broken but I'm alive’: gender, COVID-19 and higher education in Australia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Higher Education Research and Development


Taylor & Francis


School of Education / Centre for People, Place and Planet




Gray, E. M., Ullman, J., Blaise, M., & Pollitt, J. (2022). ‘I'm broken but I'm alive’: Gender, COVID-19 and higher education in Australia. Higher Education Research & Development, 1-15. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2022.2096576


This paper reports on a project conducted between July 2020 and March 2021 that was developed within the context of COVID-19 and explored the ways in which Australian universities responded to the pandemic and the gendered effects of these responses. This paper demonstrates that sexist and gender discriminatory practices were amplified by the pandemic and that the gendered division of labour within higher education was made more apparent. We contribute to a growing body of work on gender and the COVID-19 crisis by reporting on a survey conducted in Australia. The survey asked participants to reflect on their experiences qualitatively. It is this qualitative element that has been missing from much of the research in the field thus far. In addition, the diversity of participants means that we bring an intersectional lens to the ongoing effects of the pandemic upon higher education, including exploring the experiences and reflections of academics who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD), LGBTIQA+, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences and reflections. This paper, therefore, reports on some of the key findings from the survey and focuses upon the gendered dimensions of the pandemic, domestic life and pandemic living-working, and affect, emotion and wellbeing.



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